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Walmart joins other retailers in the switch to go cage-free

at 2016.04.08
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Egg-citing news*

Walmart just announced it is joining other restaurants, food makers, and egg-suppliers to sell 100% cage-free eggs by 2015.

What that means

Walmart’s egg supplier will now be required, per guidelines set forth by the United Egg Producers (UEG), to house chickens in an area 1.0-1.5 square feet per egg-laying hen to call the eggs cage-free.

“The era of confining hens in cages in America’s food system is officially sun-setting,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

Pacelle has pushed Walmart for the switch over the past decade, frequently traveling to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas to make his case.

The squawk on the street

Other retailers that have joined the flock include McDonald’s, Kroger, Costco, and Trader Joe’s.

“Our commitment to transition to a cage-free egg supply chain recognizes that expectation and represents another step we are taking to improve transparency for food we sell in our U.S. stores and clubs,” stated Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer at Walmart.  The retailer pledging to go 100% cage-free by 2025.

Is Cage-Free healthier?

Slightly. “Cage-free is certainly not like Old McDonald’s farm,” explains Paul Shapiro, spokesperson for the Humane Society of the United States.

Although the birds are not kept in tiny battery cages, it doesn’t mean that they are free of antibiotics or fed a diet without additives. But by not living in a cage and having more mobility they are exposed to less fecal dust, rodents, and insects which improves their health and immune system.

But most importantly, according to the Humane Society, “while cage-free does not necessarily mean cruelty-free, cage-free hens generally have significantly better lives than those confined in battery cages. The ability to lay their eggs in nests, run and spread their wings are tangible benefits that shouldn’t be underestimated.” Chickens everywhere are singing the lyrics to Lynyrd Skynrds’ Freebird.

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